Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Death is an everyday scene in Gaza

VIOLENCE BEGETS VIOLENCE. There are no two ways about it. Palestine will always be shrouded by smoke of bomb blasts while the smell of death permeates every corner of the tiny state. While the world points fingers and debate in their airconditioned room as to who is right or wrong, children are massacred at will. The bombings and cry for help are brought right into our living room via CNN, the BBC, Aljazeera and other world TV network. As we grapple with an economy that is threatened by slowdown, Palestinians are trying to seek meaning to their existence. Burials are turned into parades and call for revenge and vengenace. And as Muslims greet the hijrah of 1430, the sounds of gunfire, rockets and mortars replace the sound of firecrackers and voices of merriment. No cheers, just tears. And here we are trying to make sense of our own peaceful backyard, while Palestine bleeds and struggle for existence. This picture of Palestinian children about to be buried following the Israeli attack on Monday is but an everyday scene in Gaza...

Terima Kasih atas sumbangan '08

HOPEFULLY, ONE OF these children will grow up to serve his or her felllow friends, and be a useful member of the larger community. At this point in time, they are in need of help from us. They are the orphans I've been writing about this past year. A number of them are not in the picture. For the past 12 months, the $1 a day contribution given by friends and relatives have been very useful. At $30 a month, these children have bought books and some personal items to help them through school. A couple of well-wishers have offered books and I'm trying to set up a book club to enable them to read more. For those who you who have sent email expressing interest to see them visually, well, here's one for you. My deep appreciation for all contributors and may each and everyone of you be blessed forever.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

AM - white knight for old kampong folks

WHILE many people are planning and executing mega deals through their connections and network, Am, a farmer-contractor, plods along doing some basic agriculture stuff. No high-end sales pitch, no big political backing, no big bank loans. No publicity too. Am, a nickname by which he is fondly called by his friends, has just embarked on a catfish rearing project which he hoped would yield good returns from the third harvest onwards. That would be sometime in September or October. He's invested RM1,600 each for his 21 canvas-ponds (as these pictures show). He's hired a rubber tapper to help manage the catfish project. The rubber tapper has fallen on bad times with the big drop in rubber prices. When I asked how he's coping with the big drop in income, he gave me a toothless grin and said: "Nasib baik ada projek ikan keli ni!" Am has done some excellent replanting scheme for the kampong folks in the lower Perak area. As aging landowners whose children have gone on to live in the cities earning good, regular salaries, these folks now found their plots have grown lalang and are untended. The lands have become idle, unproductive. Then came Am, riding in to rescue these old folks with replanting schemes funded by Risda, the government agency entrusted with helping rubber smallholders. Am has organised these folks and they are now quite happy to see their four or five acres being toiled once again. Talking to Am over near his catfish farm, the young man is full of ideas to help the rural folks raise their income level. He said: "Orang kampong nak tengok contoh macam mana projek pertanian boleh menjamin hidup mereka. Kalau setakat hantar gambar dan berpuluh makalah (brochures), lebih baik tak payah. Kalau dia orang nampak projek depan mata boleh berhasil, mereka ni boleh diajak berunding." For the last couple of years, that's what Am has been doing. And doing it well, I must say.

Ahmad Said, Nizar, Ahmad Zubir -adoi!!

PHEW! This country is never short of hot news, or news that beg to be analysed. There's always something for everyone. The trivial matters often get picked up over roti bakar and tea at Chawan in Bangsar and would often draw laughter or sniggers. I'm not sure if Mawi's wedding deserved national television coverage, but it certainly has triggered debate in many places. Mawi and wife, Ekin, may not have planned such a spectacle but others may saw considerable commercial value for such an event. I wonder who stand to benefit most in the 'show,' Mawi or the promoters. Then there's the change of heart by the Government where the Institut Jantung Negara is concerned. While it does look like Sime Darby may have to forgo the opportunity of adding such a prestigious institution to its stable, one can never be certain whether the issue is really dead and buried. Didn't Sime Darby Chairman Tun Musa Hitam tried to justify his company's intention to acquire IJN over prime time TV news a few hours ago? My reading is that in so far as Sime Darby is concerned, the matter is far from over and done with. While the Cabinet must be credited for the decision which is seen to have resulted in Sime Darby "losing face," I believe the "campaign" by reputable bloggers on the issue should not go unacknowledged. Hats off to them too, especially Ahirudin 'Rocky Bru' Attan (rockybru.blogspot.com), Ashraf 'Jejak Pujangga' Abdullah (jejakpujangga.blogspot.com) and A KadirThe Scribe' Jasin (akadirjasin.blogspot.com) for their pursuit in recent days. While most of the controversies had centred around the Establishment and its personalities, the 'other establishment,' that is the Pakatan Rakyat, is also not without its fair share of trigger-happy episodes. Perak MB Datuk Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin takes first prize for his statement on HIV positives! Suggesting that those found to be HIV positives be quarantined, the engineer-MB must have found some strange formula with which the issue is to be addressed intelligently and effectively. Isolating them, the MB seemed to suggest, is the best way to deal with the AIDS menace. Yet another MB, Terengganu's Datuk Ahmad Said, is not to be outdone. He seemed bent on taking on TV3 owners, Media Prime, for what he perceived to be the TV station's attempt to discredit him. From his perspective, Ahmad's sense of timing for bringing up the issue can't be better than now when all the media attention is focused on the forthcoming parliamentary by-election in Kuala Terengganu. Senator Wan Farid, the BN's choice as the candidate, must be wondering whether he stands any chance come Jan 17, especially with senior party colleagues like the MB in his corner. But Wan Farid's battle for Kuala Terengganu is another story altogether...

The picture has nothing to do with thestory. It's a favourite jungle hideout where I can take a dip in crystal clear water and feel fresh again, especially after a tiring day.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Be a balanced blogger, Dr M said.

I MADE a dash to the Mid-Valley yesterday to see top blogger Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad signing his blogging book at the MPH boook store. It was a very big turnout. I squeezed in to take some pictures, hoping that the pictures can be a new feature in my blog. It took me several days to learn the trick, but I hope it's worth it. Dr M was accompanied by his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali. The Tun's other blogger in the family, Marina, was also present, with her daughter. The book store owners had to limit those wanting to get Dr M's personally-autographed book to 100. It was standing room only at the book-signing ceremony. Dr M had time to answer only four questions, with a reminder from the book's publisher, Datuk A Kadir Jasin, that questions were confined to those about writing only. No political questions allowed, AKJ said. Responding to one of the questions, Dr M said writing blogs called for a balanced and responsible approach. Same as in the traditional media, he said.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

RM1 sehari membawa erti

RM1 sehari besar ertinya. Ia boleh memberi sedikit kelapangan kepada yang memerlukan. Bagi anak-anak yatim dalam gambar ini, RM1 sehari membantu mereka ke sekolah dan meringankan sedikit beban yang ditanggong penjaga mereka.

Berkat bantuan rakan-rakan, saudara mara dan kenalan, anak-anak ini dibekalkan RM30 sebulan sepanjang tahun ini. Wang ini digunakan untuk membeli makanan, sedikit peralatan sekolah dan apa juga keperluan yang mereka fikir perlu. Gambar ini dirakamkan di dusun Ibu saya di Behrang, Perak. Tidak semua anak-anak yatim dalam program bantuan ini hadir. Ada yang membantu keluarga di dusun dan ada yang menuntut di asrama jauh dari pangkuan keluarga. Anak-anak yatim ini dan keluarga mereka hadir dalam satu majlis makan durian dan kait rambutan di dusun. Turut hadir ialah rakan-rakan dan dermawan yang dapat meluangkan sedikit masa untuk bersama kami. Majlisnya kecil tetapi meriah; ala kadar tetapi bermakna. Saya mengucapkan Terima Kasih kembali kepada penderma-penderma seperi Jam, Wan Sab, Abdullah, Ashraf, Izham, Fatimah, Feroz, R2 dan ramai lagi yang menghulur bantuan dengan ikhlas sejak awal tahun ini. Moga-moga2 bantuan anda diberkatiNya. Doa saya juga anda sekelian sentiasa didalam peliharaanNya setiap masa. Bak kata pantun Melayu:
pisang emas dibawa belayar
masak sebiji diatas peti
hutang emas boleh ku bayar
hutang budi ku bawa mati.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Terima kasih kembali Mariam

MARIAM, thank you for helping to restore my streamyx! Thank you for your call early this morning. Now I'm waiting for my Yayasan Salam office to have our connection restored. I'm sure it'll be up and running tomorrow.

Terima kasih kembali, kalau rosak I minta tolong lagi!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mandi pagi ala P Ramlee di Kemboja

SELAMAT DATANG ke Kemboja! Kata-kata ini datang dari Zaini, anak muda Kemboja yang pulang bercuti ke kampongnya, Praksandai, kira-kira lima jam perjalanan dari Phnom Penh, ibu negara Kemboja.

Saya dan rombongan sukarelawan dari Yayasan Salam Malaysia tergamam seketika apabila mendengar kata-kata itu. Zaini fasih berbahasa Melayu dan melayan semua soalan saya dan rakan-rakan dengan jelas dan penuh sopan.

Zaini bekerja beberapa tahun di Johor, di sebuah kilang besi yang membuat gril dan pagar rumah. Dia pulang bercuti untuk menyambut Hari Raya Haji awal minggu hadapan. Kampongnya terletak di sebelah Sungai Mekong, yang menjadi sumber keperluan air semua penduduk di kampung itu.

Air Sungai Mekong yang sewarna dengan teh tarik Malaysia memberi nyawa dan rezeki kepada semua penduduk. Sepanjang saya di kampong itu, kami mandi, memasak, membasuh pakaian dan minum air sungai itu.

Alhamdulillah, setakat ini tidak seorang pun ahli rombongan saya mengalami masalah akibat minum air sungai itu. Kebanyakan kami minum air botol tetapi semua masakan menggunakan air yang sama.

Yayasan Salam berada di sini atas rayuan penduduk tempatan yang berusaha membaikki sekolah dan rumah ibadat. Sebahagian ahli rombongan tinggal di sini dan hanya akan pulang selepas sambutan Hari Raya Korban.

Anak muda seperti Zaini ini mengeloh apabila memandingkan hidupnya di Malaysia dengan Kemboja. Dengan nada sedih, Zaini berkata kos sara hidup di Kemboja amat tinggi manakala kuasa membeli rendah dan terhad.

Anak muda itu berkata, apabila saya pulang ke sini, saya bawa duit untuk keluarga. Tetapi ia habis dalam sekelip mata, ujarnya sambil menggelengkan kepala. Saya kena kerja lebih kuat. Sekarang saya sudah ada anak, dan saya perlu banyak wang.

Jika keadaan memaksa, Zaini tiada pilihan dan akan ke Malaysia semula untuk mencari rezeki. Dia terpaksa berkorban demi kepentingan keluarga dan dirinya.

Kampong yang saya dan sukarelawaan lawati untuk projek kemanusiaan ini adalah antara kampong yang termiskin di Kemboja. Tidak ada kilang di kawasan berhampiran. Tidak ada bisnes besar yang boleh memberi kerja. Tidak ada pusat perniagaan yang besar.

Zaini memberitahu saya, kebanyakan penduduk kampong bertani. Mereka hidup kais pagi, makan pagi, kais petang makan petang. Mereka juga bertani menikut cara lama, menanam padi menggunakan kerbau, menuai dengan tenaga buruh yang ramai, menangkap ikan secara lama, dan nenjual hasil tanaman dan tangkapan di sekitar kawasan kampong.

Yayasan Salam akan mengumpul maklumat lengkap dan akan mencari jalan bagaimana kami boleh membantu membangunkan masyarakat dengan usaha-usaha baru. Penyertaan individu dermawan dan syarikat yang ingin menabur bakti boleh menghubungi kami untuk tujuan berkenaan.

Derma atau sumbangan kepada Yayasan Salam akan mendapat pengecualian cukai pendapatan. Yayasan Salam boleh dihubungi email di info@salam.org.my atau melalui tel 603-7958-4021 atau fax 603-7958-4031. Laman web pula ialah http://www.salam.org.my/.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Misi kemanusiaan Salam ke Kemboja

SAYA akan ke Kemboja beberapa hari atas misi kemanusiaan Yayasan Salam Malaysia. Pasukan pertama berlepas semalam, termasuk beberapa rakan dari MAYC Veteran dari Kedah. Pasukan ini diketuai oleh Sdra A Ghani Ibrahim dari Yayasan Salam.

Pasukan kedua berlepas besok (Ahad 30 Nov) dan ketiga pada 7 Dis untuk berhari raya korban di Kemboja. Beberapa rakan dari media massa turut serta dalam pasukan kedua bersama saya besok.

Ini ialah misi kedua untuk membantu sebilangan rakyat Kemboja menyambut hari raya korban dengan sumbangan dari dermawan Malaysia. Selain berhari raya dengan penduduk miskin di beberapa buah kampong di situ, kami juga akan bergotong royong untuk membaikki sekolah, surau dan masjid.

Ada juga rakan-rakan yang membawa peralatan sekolah, ibadat dan sedikit pakaian untuk penduduk tempatan. Jika cukup rezeki, mungkin ada sedikit duit raya untuk kanak-kanak.

Bagi pihak Yayasan Salam, saya ucapkan terima kasih tidak terhingga kepada dermawan yang bermurah hati memberi sumbangan ikhlas. Penghargaan juga diberi kepada anak-anak muda dan warga emas yang menawarkan khidmat mereka sebagai sukarelawan dalam misi ini.

Moga-moga khidmat kita diberkatiNya!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Fatwa controversy could have been avoided

THE fatwa controversy on yoga need not have turned into an open battle the way it's been in the last week or so. With a bit more finesse and advanced planning, the controversy could have been reduced, or avoided even.

Somehow, the people responsible for the announcement had forgotten one major aspect of information dissemination - that of getting help from the media, the very medium by which the information was relayed.

In previous occassions, when potentially controversial decisions were about to be announced, they were preceeded by deep background briefing. Many editors were brought into confidence on a few major developments of national interest in the past.

The deep background briefing, a jargon frequently used to describe some off-the-record sessions involving the media, also served as a sounding board where the media can help give some initial feedback.

In the early 80s, I remember some senior editors were briefed on the padi subsidy which the Government had wanted to introduce.

The editors gave their feedback, some of which were not necessarily pleasant. But at least the Government had anticipated some problems and was able to refine the announcement, thus reducing the anxiety of the padi farmers and the community at large.

The Government had also taken the media into confidence over some security situation involving the Communist guerrillas, especially in the peace process that eventually took place. In the economic crisis of the mid-80s, the media were also taken into confidence to play a supporting role to help the nation get out of the mess.

It was the same in the 1997/98 financial crisis. The Government took the media aside, briefed them what was happening and told them what could have happened if the matter was not correctly presented to the rakyat.

Call it spinning if you like, but it served the purpose of putting the nation back on track. It took several years but the country battled the crisis and survived.

If the Fatwa Council had given the media some deep background briefing, things could have been handled differently. Very often, managing a crisis is a lot more expensive and stressful than preventing one.

Monday, November 24, 2008

No more yoga for Halim - mat for sale!

HALIM used to join his friends once, and when possible, twice a week to practise his yoga. This was usually done early morning before he starts work in a Government office. He enjoyed what he was doing, and he made new friends along the way.

But after the practice of yoga in its purest and comprehensive form has been ruled haram by the National Fatwa Council over the weekend, Halim may stop doing the exercise altogether. His yoga mat may gather dust or he might just give it to someone else.

Generally, Muslims will follow that ruling. But Halim and many others like him would tell you that he wasn't into the mantra-chanting which accompanies pure yoga like those practised by Hindu yoga masters.

Th ruling has been widely reported by the media. But what is not adequately highlighted is the fact that Muslims who may want to keep exercising yoga may do so minus the mantras and chantings.

Halim may not have come to the stage where he could do headstand. With this fatwa, Halim may stop practising altogether. I'm sure Halim, like other Muslims who's into yoga, must be asking many questions after the council issued the fatwa.

From my personal observation, Muslims would generally adhere to the fatwa. They may not be doing any of the chanting or reciting the mantras when they were practicing. But the fact that a fatwa on this has been issued, people like Halim would just stop and move on to other forms of exercise.

But what about those who's been into yoga and have become yoga masters themselves? Would they have to "repent" if indeed their 'aqidah' (belief) have been affected? Would there be a dialogue with the council where Muslim yoga practitioners can ask questions and have their fears soothed or confirmed?

In a situation like this, I'm sure many would have preferred the council to accompany its ruling with some specific examples of the YES and NO of yoga. When there's none, the ruling would be subjected to interpretations which may lead to confusion and misunderstanding.

The easiest would be to stop altogether. But some die-hard students may want to continue, and they want to have a fuller understanding of what they can and cannot do, lest they run foul of the fatwa and find themselves emotionally and mentally troubled.

More than that, they may come to the conclusion that Islam is so restrictive and narrow. This, in the larger context of the faith as a way of life, may be unattractive and deters others from joining the faith.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Khadijah Ibrahim - an artiste with attitude

A SINGER-grandmother with attitude - that's what I think Khadijah Ibrahim is. And intellectual too, if you don't mind! The pin-up star of the '80s was at her best when she took the Malaysian Philharmonic Hall by storm for two nights this week.

What a show it was! She kept such a high tempo throughout her performance that it was difficult not to sing along, or clap one's hands and join the fun. It was a party with a message, one that we don't get often enough from our local singing artistes.

Kathy - the glam name that graced her album covers those days - did the stage show to mark her 30 years in showbusiness, her pearl anniversary. She did the show to raise funds for abused children, single mothers, the physically challenged, and the under-privileged.

The Sultan and Sultanah of Perak were the VVIPs on the second and last night. No one, I believed, came away disappointed. She sang, cajoled, stomped and teased the crowd for more than two hours, and no one was complaining.

When papa rock Ramli Sarip, her guest performer, appeared on stage and sang the everlasting Doa Buat Kekasih, Kathy had the crowd on their feet. The duet was simply awesome!

She was somewhat cynical too, I thought. But in a delightful way, I must add.

"Here I am, trying to raise funds for charity, and there weren't much support from corporates. My team and I did raise some money, but it was hardly enough to cover costs.

"But I had a chanced encounter with a young MP-Minister who, together with a friend of his, made a few calls. And that's how I can be here tonight," she told the packed audience.

Her rapport with the audience was amazing. It was refreshing to have a hit singer on stage dispensing wit and philosophy, and a genuine attitude to help make a difference for a better and a more caring society.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rafidah vs Shahrizat - lots of bitchin' soon!

THE guessing game is over! Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil yesterday announced her decision to take on her Wanita Umno boss, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz. And Rafidah, at a separate function, told her deputy to "get it on and see you in the ring."

Woh! This is no ordinary cat fight. This is a do or die battle royal, which will see a lot of clawing, biting, bitching - a street fight if you may!

Rafidah wins, and Shahrizat can kiss goodbye to whatever political ambitions she may harbour. At least in the short term, that is. Sharizat wins, and Rafidah can fade into the sunset (but not necessarily to her political demise).

Rafidah is not new to big fights - she was beaten once by Datuk Siti Zaharah Sulaiman, only to regain her seat at the next round. Who can forget Rafidah's snub as she ignored Siti Zaharah's attempt to shake hands?

Rafidah grew and entrenched herself in the movement, while Siti Zaharah...Siti who?

Will Shahrizat be another famous scalp for Rafidah, described by many of her peers as the only man in the Cabinet when she served former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad? Perhaps, Shahrizat can chart a new course in the movement's history by elbowing out her boss. And Shahrizat would need a really strong elbow to do that, I can tell you!

I doubt if many people are surprised that a contest is set to take place. In a way, this is good because this is how a movement's leader should be picked. Let the members decide who they want.

I'm not sure if party president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had met them. Abdullah was reported to have said that he would meet the two to work out some arrangements. The PM only returned last night, after Shahrizat had made her announcement.

In a few months, we'll know who'll rule the Wanita kingdom. This is going to be one of the main bouts in the March no-holds-barred no-quarters-asked-no-quarters-given epic battles!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Melayu jangan jadi ayam dalam raga - Rais

SAYA singgah di Wacana Isu Perundangan dan Hak-Hak Pribumi Dalam Perlembagaan anjuran PERKASA pagi tadi di Memorial Tun Hussein Onn. Majlis dirasmikan oleh Menteri Luar, Datuk Seri Rais Yatim.

Seperkara yang bermain di kepala saya ialah - bagaimana orang Melayu mahu atau boleh bersatu sedangkan mereka mempunyai ideologi yang berbeza, mengikut falsafah dan perjuangan parti mereka.

Saya ajukan soalan ini kepada Rais. Menteri yang amat petah bercakap itu, yang satu ketika dahulu pernah menjadi Menteri Besar Negeri Sembilan, mengakui bahawa ia memang sukar tetapi tidak mustahil.

Katanya, semua pihak yang berkenaan perlu mencari elemen penyatuan yang terdapat dalam agama Islam, selain faktor kebudayaan dan pentadbiran kuasa. Apapun, usaha ini hendaklah dibuat dengan jujur dan ikhlas supaya kepentingan orang Melayu tidak terjejas dan kaum-kaum lain terbela.

Saya berpendapat usaha mencari titik-titik pertemuan ini bukanlah satu perkara yang mudah, dan boleh dilakukan segera. Saya tidak dapat melihat acuan atau ramuan bagaimana ini boleh dilakukan selagi orang Melayu dan pemimpin mereka berpegang kepada fahaman sempit.

Dalam hal ini juga, saya berpendapat ada baiknya jika sebarang usaha dibuat tanpa banyak gembar-gembur. Ada baiknya jika sebarang usaha dibuat di belakang tabir, tanpa tumpuan media dan publisiti besar-besaran.

Bercakap dan bercerita memang mudah. "Talk is cheap," kata pepatah Inggeris. Jika usaha mencari penyatuan ini gagal, setelah ia diperbesar-besarkan lebih dari yang patut, ia akan mengundang malu dan masalah.

Rais sendiri menyelitkan satu ungkapan yang saya harap tidak terlepas pandang oleh pemikir dan penganjur wacana. Katanya: "Orang Melayu jangan jadi macam ayam dalam raga (mungkin reban maksudnya) - hidup bersebelahan tetapi bersengketa dan berkelahi sepanjang masa.)"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shahrizat nak apa lagi? Malu tapi mahu?

POLITIK memang pelik. Semasa belum menerima pencalonan, mereka yang berhasrat nak menjadi pemimpim utama ke sana ke mari melobi sokongan. Pelbagai bentuk pujuk rayu digunakan.

Dan sekarang, selepas mendapat pencalonan, dan layak pula bertanding jawatan utama, tiba pula rasa sangsi, seolah-olah kurang yakin dengan pendirian awal. Mereka yang nyaring melaungkan demokrasi bertukar menjadi suara yang lemah semangat dan mudah ditarik hidung.

Hari ini, cerita dan berita mengenai politik menjadi bahan utama di mana sahaja - di warung, di pejabat, di dalam teksi, di bilik lembaga pengarah. Malah di mana sahaja orang berkumpul, politik menjadi bahan perbualan hangat.

Selama dua hari berturut-turut, permainan politik Wanita Umno mendapat tempat utama di dada kebanyakan akhbar. Berita televisyen juga memuatkan sepak terajang dan tangkis menangkis yang berlaku dalam pergerakan itu.

Yang jelas ialah pendirian Ketuanya, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, yang tidak mahu jawatan tertinggi itu dipertandingkan. Beliau mendapat 117 pencalonan, dan ini tidak cukup untuk membolehkannya menang tanpa bertanding. Orang nombor dua dalam pergerakan itu, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, mendapat 73 pencalonan, sekaligus melayakannya bertanding, jika mahu.

Ramai melihat Shahrizat mahu, tetapi malu. Mereka juga berpendapat bahawa Rafidah tidak mahu dirinya ditanding, dan tidak malu-malu menjelaskan kedudukannya.

Dalam gelanggang wanita, semua sekarang menunggu gerak langkah Shahrizat seterusnya. Terus mara dan bertempur. Atau undur dan telan sahaja air liur. Apapun, rentak dan gerak Shahrizat ditatap rapi oleh Rafidah dan penyokongnya.

Shahrizat mungkin bermain tai chi dalam mindanya sebelum dapat menyenyakkan diri. Jika dia undur, dia akan berhadapan dengan ahli EXCO pergerakan itu, Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim, yang kini layak bertanding untuk jawatan Timbalan Ketua Wanita setelah mendapat 55 pencalonan.

Kamilia tetap dengan pendirian bahawa dia tidak akan undur. Pantang sekali, ujarnya. Beliau tidak mahu menghampakan 55 bahagian yang menaruh harapan terhadap kebolehannya.

Shahrizat perlu meneliti dengan sebaik mungkin gelanggang mana yang dia mahu bersilat. Kalau mengikut resmi pendekar atau srikandi, alang-alang menyelok pekasam, biar ke pangkal lengan! Kalau sudah begitu lama berguru, mengapa harus cuak dan mematikan langkah sendiri?

Sebanyak 73 bahagian mahukan Shahrizat mengambil alih kepimpinan pergerakan. Ini bermakna, Rafidah tidak lagi mendapat sokongan penuh pergerakan. Bekas Ahli Parlimen Lembah Pantai itu tidak perlu cuba memujuk Rafidah untuk mempercepatkan pelan peralihan dari Jun tahun depan kepada Mac.

Setelah tewas ditangan Puteri Keadilan, Nurul Izzah, anak sulung Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Shahrizat perlu memulihkan kewibawaannya. Jika dia mahu mengekalkan kepercayaan penyokongnya, Shahrizat perlu menghunus keris dan masuk gelanggang untuk menebus maruah akibat kekalahan dalam Pilihanraya 8 Mac lalu.

Sesiapa yang melihat berita TV semalam akan ingat betapa lemah-longlainya Shahrizat di sidang akhbar selepas mesyuarat EXCO Wanita. Dengar khabar, beliau diasak dengan kuat oleh Rafidah dan tidak mampu menunjukkan sebarang semangat juang seorang pendekar.

Shahrizat muncul sebagai MP Lembah Pantai dengan penuh gaya dan dilihat sebagai pemimpin yang bertenaga. Ya, dia kalah dalam PRU yang lalu. Tetapi banyak faktor luaran yang menyebabkan dia tewas, termasuk rasa benci pengundi terhadap kepimpinan negara ketika itu.

Jika Shahrizat tidak bertempur kali ini, bintang politiknya akan malap, dan dia akan dipinggir. Rafidah tidak ada ilmu kebal. Tetapi beliau berani dan menggunakan reputasinya untuk 'menggerunkan' sesiapa sahaja yang berhasrat melawannya.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Aspirants wooing 2,500-odd delegates

IN THE next few months many Cabinet Ministers from Umno will be very busy - not just with official ministerial functions and meetings and seminars, but with campaigning to ensure their political preservation in what could be one of the most interesting contests in years.

I don't envy the diary-keepers of these ministers. Menteris Besar are no exception too, as do Chief Ministers. The PAs (personal assistants) and secretaries will have to juggle their bosses' time so that they can do their official duties and have some time to meet delegates for the March annual general assembly.

This diary juggling act will start immediately. It'll last between now and March when party elections are held. It's the longest-ever campaign period, longer than the one set for the general election even.

A few weeks ago, a Cabinet minister suggested that some people contesting in the Umno elections should perhaps leave the Cabinet or take leave if they are unable to cope with such a heavy diary. Easier said than done, this.

Looking at the long list of contestants for the various posts, I doubt if the Cabinet can have any substantial meetings because a good number of the Umno ministers are involved. Even deputy ministers are bidding for some seats, and they all are in it to position themselves higher in the food chain.

There are three bidders for the deputy president's post and eight vying for three vice presidential seats. Six of them are Cabinet members. The contestants could also be nine if another aspirant qualify should he get one more nomination to qualify.

Four other divisions have yet to stage their meetings.

Contestants for all posts are heavyweights in their own ways, and believe they stand as good a chance as the next fellow. They enter the ring knowing they have to fight for every vote and knows their targets well.

The elder ones are not going to walk away and allow the young Turks to take over without a fight. I expect the months ahead to be potentially bruising.

All eyes will be on the contest for the post of Deputy President. Pagoh MP Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin garnered the most number of nominations (92), having qualified very early during the divisional meetings.

His opponents, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib (Selangor liaison chief with 45 nominations) and Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam (liaison chief Malacca and Chief Minister with 46 nominations) had to wait till the last lap of divisional meetings to qualify to contest.

Muhyiddin, the International Trade Minister, may have been encouraged when he qualified very early (39 needed to qualify) and many thought he would win uncontested.

Blogger Kuda Kepang (Datuk Ruhanie Ahmad) ran an article in his blog two days ago saying that a hidden voice has been working behind the scene whispering advice to divisions to help ensure Muhyiddin is challenged, and not win the post uncontested.

Another blogger, Datuk Wong Chun Wai, the chief editor of the Star newspaper, too wrote a piece suggesting that Muhyiddin won't find it easy because he is seen to be over-critical of his party boss, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

That being so, especially when Muhyiddin is seen to be instrumental behind the move to make Abdullah vacate his post earlier than 2010, factions aligned to Abdullah worked hard to deny Muhyiddin a walk-in.

With 92 nominations (beating Mohd Ali's and Muhd Taib's combined total of 91), there seems to be a very big number of Umno grassroots leaders who agree with Muhyiddin on the issues he has been raising since the March general election.

Muhyiddin's challengers are no pushovers mind you. Mohd Ali have done well in Malacca, even though there is a school of thought who believe that he may be out of depth at the federal level. Others see Muhd Taib, who served Selangor well in his early years as MB of Selangor, may have expired his shelf life in high-end politics.

I suspect that delegates attending the March assembly would love to see such a contest, partly for their own personal bank accounts. I may sound cynical but lots of money will be used in the long campaign ahead. Everyone will be using money, only the amount varies.

I've heard of war-chests being amassed to prepare for the battle ahead. I recall talk that some funds allocated for the March 8 general election were not fully utilised, having saved some for the Umno campaign.

A sinister thought did come across my mind, and I can tell you that I'm not the only with such a view. The divisions wanted to see a contest for the top posts as this would enable them to 'earn easy money.'

There will be some 2,500 delegates casting their votes in March. For the contestants, these are the ones that matter. A big portion of those who voted in the divisional meetings have shown their preferences, meaning they are the real voice of the Umno grassroots.

The 2,500-odd delegates attending the March assembly may have other ideas. Their votes may not reflect the choice of the grassroots. That's why all the aspirants are now compiling names of the delegates. It's in their hands who will be Umno top bosses for the next three years.

I leave it to your imagination as to how the aspirants will woo these 2,500-odd voters.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Air suam 20 sen - mau pergi haji kah?

A ceremony was held today to announce that some restaurants are reducing the price of teh tarik, roti canai and nasi kandar. And it was officiated by the Domestic Trade Minister Datuk Shahrir Samad no less.

I caught sight of it on tv, having read about it in the blogs earlier. The radio was also full of the announcement.

I'm supposed to jump with joy at such a big decision, a sacrifice almost for the restaurant owners. But I'm not so sure. I wonder if the teh tarik would still tatste the same or the roti canai is of the same size.

Ministers don't usually take teh tarik at restaurants or any of the many mamak shops in town.They probably won't know. I don't blame them really because they are ever so, so busy.

But maybe someone should tell the minister that air suam costs 20 sen a glass! 20 sen is a bit on the high side isn't it? Many people order their teh tarik or teh O and then round their breakfast with a glass of air suam as they swallow their morning medicines and what-have-you.

I heard one argument over this at a famous nasi kandar shop in Bangsar: "Come on lah Abang! Dua puloh sen satu gelas air suam! Mau cepat pergi haji kah?"

Friday, November 7, 2008

Abdullah didn't do it; so Najib must!

"His failure to tackle corruption, inefficiency and the abuse of power made a mockery out of the great mandate the Malaysian people gave him in 2004," a quote from an article taken from the latest issue of Off the Edge.

Him referred to above is Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister, who will pass the baton of national leadership to his anointed successor, Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak.

In an article written by Keith Leong under the headline 'You can't trust old people," Leong listed five main arguments which led to Abdullah's imminent departure from high office.

Another quote: "All leaders need their advisers. Abdullah allowed his team to be dragged to the spotlight, until they were as well-known as he was...the perception that Abdullah was beholden to his officers caused incalculable damage to his credibility and image. The back office should never be on the front-pages."

The two-page report concludes: "If Malaysia is to land on the side of compassion, justice and freedom, then its future leaders must do what the man we call Pak Lah did not."

It's painful reading to some, but one that summed up the general views that have been prevalent for quite a while.

In another article by contributor Abdullah Ahmad, DKL to many, the former diplomat said: " He (Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak) must do the needful without fear or favour or...be recorded as the second most-incompetent Malaysian Prime Minister with the shortest stint in office."

NOTE: The Off the Edge is avilable at newsstands at RM6 an issue. The cover story is an interview with Kelantan MB Nik Aziz. Should be a good buy anytime!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dato Najib - kemana kami akan dibawa?

KEMANA agaknya Umno dan negara akan dibawa oleh Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak setelah menang tanpa bertanding jawatan Presiden Umno? InsyaAllah, MP Pekan ini akan naik setakok lagi pada bulan Mac apabila beliau mengambil alih teraju kepimpinan negara sebagai Perdana Menteri yang ke enam.

Karier politik Najib terus bersinar. Namun, suasana politik tanahair hari ini sudah berubah dan jauh berbeza dengan keadaan beberapa tahun lalu, atau beberapa bulan lalu. Anak sulong Tun Razak ini mewarisi tampok pemerintahan negara tanpa majority dua-pertiga dalam Dewan Rakyat.

Beliau juga mewarisi teraju negara yang mana lima buah negeri adalah dalam jajahan taklukan parti pembangkang - Kelantan, Pulau Pinang, Kedah, Perak dan Selangor. Wilayah Persekutuan juga berada dalam genggaman pembangkang.

Najib mengukir sejarah peribadinya sendiri. Berapa ramaikah seorang anak mengikuti jejak langkah ayahandanya sebagai pemimpin tertinggi sebuah negara? Sejarah akan benar-benar memihak kepada Najib jika dia mengikut semangat dan kerja kuat bapanya dalam usaha membawa negara ke tahap yang lebih tinggi atau cemerlang.

Dalam bahasa Inggeris, soalan saya berbunyi begini - Will Najib be his father's son?

Ramai yang menaruh harapan kepada beliau. Walaupun belum lagi mengangkat sumpah sebagai Perdana Menteri, Najib sudah merasa bahang jawatan itu.

Adalah menjadi kebiasaan bahawa jawatan dan tanggungjawab akan merubah sikap dan perwatakan seseorang itu - dari keras kepada lembuat, dari baik kepada jahat, dari buruk kepada elok, dari waras kepada angkuh dan sombong.

Najib berada dalam situasi dimana beliau boleh mencorak sejarahnya dan sejarah negara sekaligus. Putih hitam negara ini ada di tangan mu Dato! Corakkanlah mengikut acuan yang terbaik. Rakyat dan golongan marhaen juga menanti mencorakkan sejarah mu!

Najib tahu bahawa cabaran ekoran perubahan lanskap politik tanahair tidak memihak kepadanya. Ini menjadikan tugas dan cabarannya amat tinggi dan sukar. Harapan rakyat hari ini tinggi menggunung - mampukah Najib memuaskan kehendak mereka?

NOTA: Seorang sahabat penulis memberikan pandangannya dalam blog beralamat tpj-one-the patriot.blogspot.com. Ikuti pendapat Ketua Pengarang majalah Milenia dan Forward di situ.

Kuda Kepang bersuara lantang di MKT

RAKAN blogger, Sdra Ruhanie Ahmad 'Kuda Kepang' memerlukan beberapa pencalonan lagi untuk layak bertanding jawatan Ahli Majlis Tertinggi Umno. Saya kira tidak salah kalau Sdra Ron diberi peluang untuk mencuba nasibnya.

Beliau pernah menjadi MP Parit Sulong dan kini mengendalikan blognya secara aktif. Sdra Ron, bekas wartawan kanan di Berita Harian/NSTP, sering menyuarakan pandangan dengan lantang. Anda tak perlu setuju dengan setiap pandangannya, tetapi elok diteliti dengan halus.

Umno memerlukan suara yang lantang hari ini, bukan setakat 'Yes Men' yang hanya tahu akur dengan arahan Boss mereka walaupun kadang-kadang arahan itu merosakan parti dan perjuangan.

Sdra Ron boleh menjadi suara lantang dalam MKT. Tak perlu jadi menteri...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Free wi-fi at hotels, selected waiting areas?

SALAM and Selamat pagi! Good morning! I'm glad to be back after a few days in China. It was a short visit but I saw enough of two big cities which showcased how industrious the Chinese people are.

As most people will agree, China will be the number one economic power sooner than later. More than any other resources, the positive attitude of the Chinese people will be its most important resource, one that we should emulate.

Anyway, I was also happy because I could keep with developments in the country courtesy of on-line news portals and the blogs. Going through the blogs gave me a rounded picture of what was happening, and fill in the gaps found in the conventional media.

The hotel I stayed in Ghuzen have two desktops in the lobby where guests can browse the Net and keep up with their correspondence. I'm not sure about our hotels here. I do know that some would sell their wi-fi connectivity to guests to enable them to access the Net in their rooms.

But in Ghuzen, anyone who wanders into the hotel lobby can do so at the two terminals provided as a courtesy to visitors. Most of the Net surfers were foreigners who checked their e mails - whether its yahoo or gmail or hotmail.

Maybe some wealthy corporates may want to consider donating desktops to public places where there's waiting to be done so that the public can be productive on the Net. Railway stations, airports, immigration offices and many other establishments should think about this.

With some control and supervision, the hours of waiting can be made less tiresome if some work can be done and keep the boredom (and tension) away. Companies like Dell, HP and many others can do a pilot project at airports and review after a few months. Internet Service Providers may also want to share in this exercise for everyone's good.

Benefits to sponsors? Plenty! Branding, exposure, reputation, new businesses - what can be better than that?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jazlan episode - a non starter from day one

PULAI MP, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, was forced to abandon his intention to contest for the number two post in Umno. Having had not a single nomination to his name after three weekends of divisional meetings, Nur Jazlan, the son of former Umno Sec Gen Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat, had to forget the idea this time around.

He's also the Ketua Bahagian of Pulai. Nur Jazlan caused a stir when he made known his intention last month, much to the surprise of his peers and political observers. His simple reason for offering himself was to help in the re-generation process within Umno.

Many had laughed at his intention. There were smirks all round too.

Nur Jazlan shouldn't be faulted for wanting to seek high office. But many felt that he has yet to finish his political tutelage. He can now continue his learning curve as he seek to improve himself.

In journalism, this is referred to as a 'non story.' The whole episode was nothing more than an attempt to get his name into the media, which he did.

Was his intention viewed seriously? Apparently the divisional delegates at their meetings didn't think so. Good Luck Jazlan!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Make your Deepavali fun & memorable

MY FIRST Deepavali celebration was in the TNB quarters in Bangsar almost 50 years ago. TNB was then known as the Central Electricity Board. There were no such thing as open house then, but we enjoyed the day as friends and neighbours gathered round for our share of muruku and other goodies.

The neighbourhood was always reminded that it's Deepavali as early as 5am when we are woken by the full blare of our neighbours' radio. Soon, my Indian friends would bring goodies in trays which we would have for breakfast. It was fun. I had this every year until my father was transferred out just before the '70s.

The kids in the neighbourhood would go house to house to visit and enjoy the bottled drinks - orange, sarsaparilla, Green Spot and whatever else were served. I suppose you could term it open house too, but not in the format that we see today.

After school, Deepavali was more exciting. Friends would gather and we would visit Puvi's family in Puchong and Raj's house in Brickfields. Raj has since died. May he rest in peace. Puvi later married Theresa and has settled down in Perth. I've not been able to get in touch with Tony though.

Puvi and Tony were my housemates and we would often go for supper - Tony on his Honda 350cc bike and Puvi on his Suzuki 250. It was fun and truly memorable. We learned much from each other.

Guys, wherever you are now - Happy Deepavali. The same greetings for all Malaysians!

Was there retraction on a Star alert?

A SUBSCRIBER to the Star newspaper alert asked me if I know anything about a news alert sent out on Thursday about the Umno assembly. He forwarded me the alert which says: "Abdullah: Umno supreme council meeting on Oct 30 to discuss holding party polls in December as original, but transition still in March."

The alert triggered much debate among Umno members and watchers.

I asked an ordinary supreme council member and he said he was "not unhappy" at the opportunity to try and convince the other council members to get the assembly be held in December as originally planned.

But later in the night, a television news bulletin made no mention of the supreme council meeting on Oct 30, and the discussion on assembly dates. Instead, the news bulletin said the assembly will still be held in March.

I waited for the newspapers the following day. Still no mention of anything that resembles the Star alert. What happened? The Star alert got it wrong? There was a retraction of the story?

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi made references to the Umno assembly in Beijing where he was on official assignment. I hope there could be some explanation to this. If none is forthcoming, Star alerts could lose of its credibility.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Say your piece and be damned!

MANY years ago, Datuk Rais Yatim was remembered for burning his bridge with Umno and its leaders. Umno was then led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, whose strong hold of the party didn't go down well with some people in the party which he led for 23 years.

Rais went on to support Semangat 46, led by Tengku Raaleigh Hamzah, the Kelantan prince. Semangat 46, a splinter born from Umno's cradle, didn't last. Tengku Razaleigh returned to Umno on Dr Mahathir's invitation, as did Rais and many others.

Rais has apparently rebuilt his bridge, and is today seen as one of Dr Mahathir's strongest supporters. When many of Dr Mahathir's Cabinet and supreme council colleagues shunned him, especially in public, Rais was the opposite.

Rais never failed to attend Tun Mahathir's Hari Raya open house at The Mines, prompting tongues to wag. His Cabinet colleagues watched from the sidelines, thinking that Rais' days in Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's Cabinet were numbered.

Those who shunned Dr Mahathir did so for what they believe to be their political survival, especially when Dr Mahathir began taking potshots at Abdullah, which escalated to be what it is today - an open war.

Simply put, being seen with Dr Mahathir wasn't the best of moves, and was viewed as politically incorrect. We hear stories of how Cabinet Ministers who used to call on Dr Mahathir gradually stayed away from him, treating him like a leper and is to be avoided at all cost.

They, however, did openly visited him when he went for his heart by-pass at the IJN last year. It was the right thing to do then, who knows what would happen when the old man was fighting for dear life in the ICU.

Today, Rais once again sat tongues wagging. Another round of speculation as to his position in the Cabinet made its way through the rumour mill. Would he still be in the Cabinet after such a show of defiance to his boss?

Rais' statement which was in defence of Dr Mahathir after Abdullah's angry retort shown on national television and widely quoted in the media make interesting reading.

Today, many Umno leaders cushioned their remarks when asked to comment on Dr Mahathir's repeated criticisms on Abdulah. Before the general election in March, many had blasted Dr Mahathir without too much of a second thought. But with the groundswell as it is, their comments on Dr Mahathir seemed more subdued, cautious even.

While they don't want to appear disloyal to Abdullah, they also feel less obliged to come to his aid. So, when Abdullah asked a rhetorical question as to who is Dr Mahathir to try and influence Umno members when he's not even an Umno member, having left the party some three months ago, Rais had this to say:

"There are many who are blasting Dr Mahathir for making statements about Umno. This should not be an issue. He has the local standi to make any statement on Umno. He led the party for 23 years.

"If they want to say something to him, look him straight in the eye and tell him."

Woh! I thought that's very brave of Rais (his detractors may say that's foolish and could be politically suicidal). Whatever, his statement is a reflection of the times we are in - say your piece and be damned with it!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Anak blogger-jurufoto di ICU, IJN

MOHD Ali Hafizudin, 21, anak lelaki blogger-jurufoto Anuar Hj Hashim kini di ICU, Institut Jantung Negara, Jalan Tun Razak selepas pembedahan jantung semalam (Isnin). Anak muda ini dibedah untuk membetulkan injap jantungnya.

Pembedahan yang memakan masa kira-kira lima jam itu selamat dijalankan dan Mohd Ali kini dibawah penjagaan rapi di ICU. Anuar memberitahu saya anaknya itu seorang remaja yang aktif, tetapi kesihatannya mula terganggu apabila sering demam.

Bagaimanapun, pembedahan ini dijangka memperbetulkan keadaan Mohd Ali agar dia boleh kembali aktif seperti dahulu. Marilah kita sama-sama berdoa agar Mohd Ali sihat seperti sediakala secepat mungkin. Ameen.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Beware of secret mtgs and shady deals

AMIDST the barbs that were traded over the weekend, some behind-the-scene manouvering may have gone unnoticed. In fact, these hush-hush caucuses are expected to continue before the next round of Umno divisional meetings.

As widely expected, Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein, Datuk Shafie Afdal, Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Datuk Khaled Nordin, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, Datuk Sharizat Abd Jalil and Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir have qualified to contest for their respective posts.

After two weekends of divisional meeting, these are the frontrunners. They shuld be happy for securing what some people view as an early justification of their inclusion in the list of qualifiers, and would serve as a strong boost to their confidence as the big battle looms.

Among the qualifiers, Sharizat, with 40 nominations, one more than the required number, may face with a small dilemma. Would she accept the nominations and challenge her Wanita boss, Rafidah, despite the former's declaration that she's quite happy to wait for the post be handed to her next year, in accordance with the movement's transition plan?

That there are are 40 wanita divisions who dared to show their preferred choice, is a tell-tale by itself. It showed that every one of three divisions which had held their general meetings thus far, Sharizat scored one. Of the 120 divisions which had already met, Sharizat gets one-third.

I imagine that the bigger dilemma is with Rafidah. Would she stick to her guns and continue to defend her post? Or would she rather pass the baton now, having seen that she no longer enjoy the full support of the movement?

The other front runners, with the notable exception of Najib, the incoming president and Prime Minister-in-Waiting, aren't really out of the woods yet. There's now talk and whispers that these individuals should't get a monopoly of the nominations. Let's give the others a chance too, the hush-hush campaigners are saying.

In this case, the race for the deputy president's post is the main target. Muhyiddin, seen as a vocal critic of his party and Cabinet boss, is the target. While he may have secured passage to contest with 44 of the 64 divisions which have already met, attempts are being made to get the other contenders to "catch up."

One needs 39 nominations to qualify. Thus far, Malacca Chief Minister and incumbent vice president Datuk Mohd Ali Rustam, have garnered 12 and Umno Information Chief and Rural Development Minister, Senator Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib, pulled eight.

The Muhyiddin detractors, Umno insiders said, are pooling their efforts to make sure than Ali rather than Muhammad, get sufficient nominations so as to give Muhyiddin a run for his money. Many Umno leaders know that Muhyiddin is better positioned to help Najib in running the party and country, but this has not deterred them from trying their best.

Muhyiddin has also been singled out by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for going against the wishes and decision of the party supreme council, which had endorsed the transition plan that Najib would take over from Abdullah in March next year.

In fact, Abdullah also took to task former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has been openly showing support and preference for Najib and Muhyiddin. The three of them appeared cheerfully at a Hari Raya open house a week ago, as a signal to Umno members that the incoming new leaders of Umno are on the same page and taking the same route to restore party unity and work towards consolidation.

On Muhyiddin, Abdullah had this to say (according to press reports): "Is he so impatient to become DPM? That is, if he gets the support...is he trying to stop me from making reforms?" Abdullah is also of the view that there are attempts to get him to quit in December, instead of in March as per the transition plan.

On Dr Mahathir, Abdullah said: "Who is he? He has left Umno but he still issues orders to members of Umno. The party does not need to take orders from anyone who is no longer a member of the party."

The Abdullah-Dr Mahathir spat has not shown any sign of abating. In fact, it is no longer a spat, having escalated to an open political battle with consequences far and wide, viewed and scrutinised across the world.

The front runners will be among the first to agree that getting the required nominations is only the half the battle. The real combat will be during the assembly. This is when delegates pick and choose from the menu then. And as menu goes, there will be a price to pay, and priced items don't come cheap.

In the coming week, the catch-up guys will up the work rate and criss-cross the country again. Work, be they in the Cabinet or State, will take a back seat. Political survival and self preservation will be the order of the day

Which leads me to ask Datuk Shahrir Samad - how would this affect efficiency as he sees it? I read somewhere that Shahrir had scoffed at Muhyiddin's earlier comments that the long campaign period would be counter-productive because the possibility of character assassination (fitnah) and undermining would intensify.

Perhaps Shahrir can enlighten us. Wouldn't all this criss-crossing the country in trying to secure nominations not affect work? Should these people also resign, as he had suggested to Muhyiddin?

Whatever the case may be, let's see how the catch-up game is going to be played. There will be more hush-hush caucuses. There will also be more barbs traded. You and I know there will be.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tee Keat, Soi Lek - show them the way!

A NEW day begins for the MCA. With Datuk Ong Tee Keat at the helm, and assisted by Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek as his number two, the MCA is on a path of reinvention. In fact, some say that the second biggest party in the BN coalition is actually on a path of redemption.

That OT Keat, the Pandan MP, was going to win was a given in many people's mind. Cool and articulate, OT Keat has done well for himself to have reached the pinnacle in the party which he has served so much and so well.

I remember visiting his operations room in Kg Pandan just a few days before the 1999 general election. He was with his party colleagues, strategizing. He was known as the Lone Ranger, preferring not to be identified with any faction or group.

His rise has been gradual, slowly but surely. His supporters may disagree, insisting that their man has been spectacular. While this may be so, OT Keat have much to do to convince the party and BN components that he's the best person to redeem damaged MCA pride.

He'll do well, I think, partly because he's unassuming. He may not be a charismatic person, but he's known to work hard and have his heart in the right place. Much is expected of him, not just within the MCA but within the bigger BN entity.

He once told me: "I know only one thing - that I have a lot of work to do and so little time to do them. But I'm determined, and the people know that. I don't give up. I intend to stay the course and serve the party and country as best as I can."

As for Dr Chua, I've known him when he was an EXCO member of the Johore Government under Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman. Dr Chua was the exco in charge of the environment, and I remember participating in 'Environmental Walk' campaigns in JB.

I last met him in Kuching just before the fasting month. There was already talk then that he would be making a bid for one of the top posts. I asked him what post and what his plans were: "I see vast changes in our country's political landscape. Obviously, we can't win back those lost grounds using the same old tactics. We must change, and I want a role in that change-making exercise."

His return to national MCA politics is short of a miracle, a point his supporters will protest vehemently! What else can it be? Their man has never stopped working for the party, they said. For MCA members to accept him after his video scandal which resulted in his resignation from his Health Ministry portfolio, Dr Chua must have felt greatly vindicated.

Will he seek revenge and re-enter MCA top decision-making body with a heart of vengeance? I don't think so. The perception, by and large, is that Dr Chua is a good party person, and has the capabilities to deliver.

We will see if the top two leaders can work well as a team. This can only happen if they remove whatever excess baggages they may have and focus on party rebuilding. Mind you, the re-inventing process includes the rise of Datuk Ng Yen Ten as a vice president.

I believe the changing political mindset is being manifested at all fronts and levels, the MCA included. The members have shown their preferences. It's now time for work and set the direction for the coming years and battles.

This has been a watershed MCA assembly. If the new leaders can start work immediately, stop undermining each other, there is no reason why it can't do well and perhaps regain some of its lost glitter.

PS - Is there a lesson here for Umno and the MIC, the other two original partners of the then Perikatan or Alliance?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Warning of 'clear and present danger'

THERE are Press Statements and Press Statements. But when the the Malay Rulers issued their statement yesterday, it serves as a warning that we are, as the move title suggests, within sight of a 'clear and present danger.'

The statement was issued in two languages - Malay and English. When statements are issued in these two languages, it can only have one intention - to make sure everyone understands it, and it leaves no room for misinterpretation or ambiguity.

Issuing it in both languages would also enable everyone to understand the tone with which the statement was issued.

The newspapers and various news portals have used the statements in full, whether instructed, advised or otherwise. Regardless of one's position and/or platform/affiliation, the statement should serve as a reminder to all that enough is enough, and that all the public debate and outcry on matters already enshrined in the Constitution, some of which are very emotional and unbridled, could have dire consequences for the country.

Extracts from the statement: "The Conference of Rulers also calls on the Malays to be united to safeguard the privileges, position, eminence, and greatness of the Malay Rulers, safeguard Islam, Malay as the national language, and the genuine interests of the other communities in Malaysia as enshrined in the Constitution.

"It has to be emphasised that this agenda is more important and foremost than than political or factional interests.

"Non-Malays should not harbour any apprehension or worry over their genuine rights because these rights are guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and provisions of the state constitutions of Malaysia contained in Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

In Malay, the statement said: "Raja-Raja Melayu juga membuat seruan kepada orang Melayu supaya bersatu-padu untuk mempertahankan kedudukan, kemuliaan dan kebesaran Raja-Raja Melayu, melindungi agama Islam, bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa kebangsaan, dan kepentingan sah kaum-kaum lain di Malaysia seperti yang termaktub dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan. Penekanan juga perlu dibuat bahawa agenda ini adalah lebih penting dan utama dari kepentingan politik dan kelompok.

"Kaum bukan Melayu tidak perlu merasa khuatir dan bimbang tentang hak-hak sah mereka kerana hak-hak tersebut telah dijamin mengikut Perlembagaan Persekutuan dan peruntukan-peruntukan yang terkandung dalam Undang-Undang Tubuh Negeri-negeri di Malaysia yang termaktub dalam perkara 153 Perlembagaan Persekutuan."

It is best that everyone studies the Rulers statement word for word. I believe they speak after much thought and deliberations. I wouldn't want to speculate too much on the reasons for them to issue the statement, but events and statements made in recent months must have triggered them to make known their collective views on matters of deep national interests.

The statement's last paragraph said: "It is hoped that with this emphasis, all confusion among the people regarding these matters can be contained and an atmosphere of peace and harmony and mutual respect can continue to exist among the people for the maintenance of order in the country."

In Malay, it said: "Adalah diharapkan dengan penegasan tersebut, segala kekeliruan berhubung dengan perkara ini dikalangan rakyat jelata dapat dibendung dan suatu suasana yang harmoni, aman dan sikap saling hormat menghormati dikalangan rakyat dapat terus diwujudkan demi menjaga ketenteraman negara."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Don't know, Don't do, Don't Care!

THREE seasoned travellers - one an engineer, one a junior (young) millionaire and one an NGO person - took a ride to the east coast yesterday and couldn't find the hotel which they've confirmed booking.

The KLites, they were returning from Terengganu and moving towards Kuantan after stopping for dinner at Kuala Kemaman. It was about 11pm when the trio made their way to Cherating, looking forward to a hot shower and a big bed.

They've travelled this road for years. And yet they couldn't locate the resort which was located between the Impiana and The Legends - all because the resort signage has faded, and the resort management did not bother to make good the old signboard.

In the end, after about 45 minutes of searching, the trio checked in into the Residence Inn and immediately jumped into bed after a road tour that started from 5.30am on Wednesday (Oct 15). The tour includes several boat rides, climbing steep staircase and a mandatory stop for satar and otak-otak at Kuala Kemaman.

How are we going to seriously promote domestic tourism when those in the business cares very little about such things as the signage guiding paying tourists to the resort. Cherating, as I've written before, have much to offer but is missing out simply because many are indifferent about their work and industry.

I feel like informing the Pahang MB, Datuk Seri AdnanYaacob, about such unprofessional attitude of those in the tourism business. I can't expect Adnan - Pak Long to some of his buddies - to inspect every signage and keep reminding the tour operators to be more aggressive.

But where's his Tourism EXCO? Shouldn't he or she make proper effort to find out what else is lacking? If the State or the industry doesn't pay attention to such details, Pak Long should just haul these people up or sack them.

What about the resort - forget about it. Check in into the Residence Inn instead.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What's the message from these pictures?

POLITICS is about power. Or the perception of power. And this was amply shown in these pictures posted on Agenda Daily tonight. The pictures carry significant meanings of their own in the country's changing political landscape.
When I was told that Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would attend a Hari Raya open house hosted by one-time Umno Youth Secretary Datuk Raof, I found it a bit hard to believe.
But when I was told the two would be joined by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, I knew my friends were pulling a fast one, with due respect. But when the sms kept coming, I knew that Raof was serious. I got a lift to Raof's house and saw an anticipating crowd. Muhyiddin was already there, as did a host of VIPs. Tun Mahathir and wife came around 8.45pm and the couple were immediately swarmed by adoring fans. Waiting at the main table was Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar. Najib was the last to arrive and made his way through the crowd to the main table. All eyes were on the three main actors. There were smiles and handshakes and everything seemed alright. Or in place. Strange, but not so strange. At one time not too long ago, it wasn't politically correct to be seen with Tun Mahathir! You and I know how some VVIPs took the safe route and not want to be caught dead in the company of Tun Mahathir. Today, it's the coolest thing to be seen with him! It was quite obvious that the other guests were fond of the two Tuns. Favourite singer Datuk Siti Norhaliza sang two songs, much to the delight of her fans and guests. Everyone was watching everyone else's body language. The three special guests were seated side by side. When I asked a friend to describe the scene, he said the encounter was 'warm.' In fact, at one point, Tun Mahathir moved his chair closer to Muhyiddin (probably to make sure that nothing was amiss in their conversation). Or was it discussion. Najib left first, followed by the two Tuns. The crowd clapped as the couple left, followed by Muhyiddin. I did say in a previous posting that it's worthwhile to observe who does what with whom, who's seen with whom, and where they are sighted. Tell me, what do you make out of this encounter?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Najib-Muhyiddin ahead; others withdraw?

THE more likely Prime Minister-in-waiting - as his supporters keep saying - Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, can more or less imagine what's in store for him when he assumes full power come March '09.

A quick walk through the blogs, news portals, and mainstream newspapers reveal that the main contender (and at this point the only contender) for Umno's top job gives an early indication of what he can expect when he officially takes over next year.

I doubt very much he'll be given the usual 100-day honeymoon period that's customarily given to PMs and presidents. As it is, Najib is already the subject of much allegations from numerous parties, and some of them are not necessarily coming from the Opposition.

The other PM-in-waiting, Permatang Pauh MP and the de facto Pakatan Rakyat leader who is also Opposition chief, had a field day in the Dewan Rakyat, chiding Najib who had recently been given the Ministry of Finance portfolio.

There's also the so-called "sms conversation'" Najib was said to have had with a top lawyer. The accusation that Najib and wife, Datin Sri Rosmah Mansor, are involved in the murder of the Mongolian model, continues to make the rounds.

Even Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was drawn into the fray. At a press conference, Abdullah defended Najib, and insisted that the latter would be a good leader and he couldn't possibly have any part in the murder.

Come to think of it, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, also have some good words for Najib. (In recent times, Dr Mahathir and Abdullah doesn't see eye to eye on many issues. But they both seemed to have some agreement on Najib this time around)!

Najib have also been getting strong support from his deputy-in-waiting, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the Pagoh MP and International Trade Minister. This, as everyone knows, is how the game is going to be played in the coming months.

In the run-up to the March Umno General Assembly and party election, it's all (almost) about the Najib-Muhyiddin combination. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, the Gua Musang MP and former Umno treasurer who declared his willingness to run for the top job, have yet to get even one nomination.

Those wanting to bid for the number one post must get at least 30 per cent of the nomination. Ku Li is even behind two other hopefuls, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib (Umno Information Chief) and Datuk Wira Mohd Ali Rustam (Chief Minister Malacca), who broke the duck on Sunday with a couple of nominations.

In the next three weeks, we can expect the Najib-Muhyiddin pair to be more demonstrative of their partnership. They may even appear at the same open houses (a coincidence of course!) and make statements that complement each other.

The other hopefuls are also to be closely watched. Would they continue to go for it, or withdraw when there's still time for them to offer themselves for junior posts. Should they do this, it'll be at the expense of their credibility. It's a simple desire of self preservation - survival!

Monday, October 13, 2008

The body language at Umno reality show

WHAT a weekend! Personally, I had a most satisfying time, having gathered clan members for a family get-together. Almost 200 family members - young and old - gathered in Sg Merab, Kajang for a hari raya do. They were all from my paternal side.

The maternal side of the clan meets every year. But today's gathering was the first ever. There were tears too, when cousins and second cousins who have not met for years hugged each other at the re-union. Hopefully, everyone can stay together and work on the silaturrahim so that it can be enhanced.

That, plus a few family errands kept me away from updating my blog - something which kept me agitated, considering there are so many activities which beg to be commented. At the clan gathering, talk was on Shah Rukh Khan, who's a Malacca Datuk now.

There were many SRK fans at the gathering, but even they could not make out why the Bollywood hearthrob was awarded the title. Is this a trend that the Malacca Government is starting? Will we see Ashwariya Rai getting a Datukship next year? Or what about Mel Gibson? Come to think about it, maybe Mr Ban also deserves a title!

In the Umno reality show, things are getting exciting. Some aspirants may be losing sleep, especially when they have been promised nominations but not getting it when the time comes. I caught up with former Selangor Menteri Besar, Datuk Seri Mohd Khir Toyo, on Saturday, when Youth divisional meetings and some the anxiety on his face.

Mohd Khir is one of four aspirants for the post of Umno Youth chief. As at Saturday evening, Mohd Khir haven't had more than a couple of nominations, and he was on his cellphone often to get feedback from the ground.

As at this evening, Mohd Khir is still trailing Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, who has already qualified to contest the post. His closest rival, Khairy Jamaluddin, is still trying to get the numbers.

After the first round of nominations, neither Mukhriz nor Khairy can sit back and wait for next week's round. Even though Mukhriz has qualified, it would be foolish on his part if he is to relax, enjoy a quiet cup of tea and rest.

Khairy and Mohd Khir will redouble their efforts while waiting for Round 2 at the coming weekend. Nothing can be left to chances. One does so only at one's peril. Getting the required number of nominations is no guarantee of a safe passage!

What will the aspirants do while waiting for Round 2?

Many will gather their troops and sit around to strategise. Some deep analysis will be done. How come that division didn't deliver the nomination even after promising so? The 'incentives' (read money) didn't come down? Or not enough?

We'll monitor what happen in the next few days. Watch the body language. Who's present at so and so's open house, for instance. So and so was spotted having a cup of tea at a coffee house. Or so and so's special officer was having lunch with another so and so's aide. All these are tell-tale signs, and worth keeping an eye to.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ada Laksamana Do Re Mi dalam Umno?

APAKAH yang membuat Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, MP Bagon Datoh dan ahli Majlis Tertinggi Umno, mengubah fikiran dari mahu bertanding jawatan Timbalan Presiden kepada Naib Presiden?

Yang tersurat memang jelas. Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri itu menyatakan bahawa beliau menarik balik hasrat bertanding jawatan nombor dua demi 'kepentingan dan perpaduan parti.'

Yang kita semua ingin tahu ialah yang tersirat. Apakah penarikan itu hasil pertemuan empat mata antara beliau dan Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak awal minggu ini? Atau apakah pengumuman awal itu semata-mata untuk mendapat perhatian ahli parti dan mereka yang akan mengundi di pemilihan parti di perhimpunan Mac depan?

Apapun, pengumuman Zahid itu sedikit sebanyak mengurangkan 'pening kepala' perwakilan, terutama di mesyuarat agung bahagian yang bermula hari ini (Khamis). Mungkin ada yang membuat kesimpulan bahawa Zahid menarik balik keputusannya setelah sedar bahawa kemenangan bukan automatik.

Dalam pergelutan untuk jawatan timbalan presiden, setakat ini Datuk Wira Mohd Ali Rustam dan Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib adalah dua pembesar Umno yang menawarkan diri untuk bertanding.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin dijangka menyatakan hasrat yang sama esok dalam sidang akhbar khas di Putrajaya.

Mohd Ali, Ketua Menteri Melaka dan salah seorang penyandang jawatan Naib Presiden, yakin boleh menang atas popularitinya yang memang susah ditandingi. Namun, populariti sahaja belum tentu boleh memberi kemenangan untuk jawatan kedua terpenting dalam parti, dan seterusnya, dalam kerajaan.

Begitu juga dengan Muhammad Taib, Mike Tyson Umno ini. Sejarah hitamnya akan menghantui orang kuat Umno ini. Ketua Penerangan Umno ini memerlukan 'satu keajaiban politik' jika mahu menang dalam pertandingan ini.

Pemerhati politik tanahair tahu bahawa keajaiban atau 'miracle' bukanlah satu perkara yang sukar ditempah. Tidak ada yang mustahil dalam politik. Ini jugalah yang menjadi pegangan Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, MP Gua Musang, seorang gergasi dalam politik Umno dan tanahair.

Jika Ku Li mendapat cukup pencalonan, bekas Bendahari Umno ini akan berdepan dengan Mohd Najib, anak bangsawan Umno yang bakal dinobatkan sebagai Perdana Menteri Mac ini (jika dia lulus ujian pemilihan parti).

Dalam sejarah Umno Baru, pemilihan Mac ini adalah satu-satunya yang boleh disifatkan sebagai pemangkin kepada apa juga reformasi yang perlu dibuat untuk memastikan parti itu terus relevan dalam landskap politik tanahair.

Kita lihat juga bagaimana dua anak muda yang berhasrat menerajui Pemuda Umno masing-masing dapat satu pencalonan dari dua bahagian yang bermesyuarat hari ini - Khairy Jamaluddin (Machang) dan Datuk Mukriz Mahathir (Kimanis).

Apapun, Umno berada dalam keadaan terbaik atau terburuk dalam usaha menentukan masa depannya. Terbaik kerana pemilihan Mac betul-betul boleh mengembalikan keyakinan ahli dan rakyat terhadap kepimpinannya jika pemilihan dibuat berasaskan kejujuran dan keikhlasan.

Terburuk kerana keghairahan dan sifat gila kuasa yang tiada sempadan boleh meranapkan sebuah wadah yang telah lama berjasa. Mundur maju Umno terletak kepada kewarasan dan kematangan pejuang-pejuang dalam parti tua ini.

What's next after Abdulah's quit notice?

WHAT'S next? After Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi made his announcement yesterday, the political bandwagon continues. After lunch today, Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak is scheduled to declare that he's ready to accept nominations for the Umno president's post.

This will be followed by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is expected to declare that he is ready to be nominated for the number two post. Najib and Muhyiddin is expected to garner substantial number of nominations as divisional meetings start today.

Machang and Kimanis are the first two divisions to hold their AGMs today. Tumpat, Besut and Kuala Kangsar will have theirs tomorrow. Checks with some Umno grassroot leaders indicate that Najib and Muhyiddin are expected to be nominated to the top two posts.

Another aspirant, Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, will probably be nominated to contest for deputy presidnt's post when his Bagan Datoh division have its AGM on Sunday. Altogether, six divisions in Perak will have their AGMs on Sunday.

If Zahid is to have any chance of getting the required 58 nominations to be eligible to contest, he must get all six to back him. Anything less may make it extremely difficult for him.

In the Federal Territory, Cheras's Datuk Syed Ali Alhabshee's division is expected to go for the Najib-Muhyidin combination. Syed Ali had already made known his division's interest last month.

Muhyiddin's division, Pagoh, will also meet this Sunday. It's a given that Pagoh will opt for Najib as president and the Pagoh MP for deputy.

There's also talk of Muhyiddin's so-called partnership with Gua Musang MP and presidential aspirant, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. But Muhyiddin told his boys and ground troops that there's no such thing.

Abdullah's announcement would not necessarily stop divisions from nominating him. There could be one or two divisions who may want to nominate him for whatever reasons, including a show of defiance against those who Abdullah's supporters view as
having plotted for his downfall.

By end of Sunday, we will have got nominations from 34 divisions. Sabah have seven divisions meeting, Selangor two, Penang two, Malacca one, Johor five and Negri Sembilan two.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Abdullah to go in March; not contesting Umno post

WORD coming from the Putra World Trade Centre is that Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will not seek re-election for his post as President of UMNO in the March party elections.

PWTC sources said he will also step down as PM and pass the baton to his deputy, Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak.

Abdullah conveyed the decision to his colleagues at the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council this evening. Earlier, Abdullah chaired his weekly Cabinet meeting in Putrajaya.

It is not immediately known if he had notified his Cabinet. He had earlier had an audience with His Majesty the Yang DiPertuan Agong, a routine which preceded the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Abdullah dinasihat pertahankan jawatan

SEJAUH manakah perjumpaan antara beberapa orang Ketua Bahagian Umno dari Kedah, Pulau Pinang dan Perak dapat mempengaruhi Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi supaya mempertahankan jawatannya sebagai presiden parti?

Menurut berita yang dibawa orang politik, beberapa orang Ketua Bahagian dari tiga buah negeri yang ditakluki Pakatan Rakyat telah turun berhari-raya di Sri Perdana hari ini, membawa kata-kata panas dalam usaha memberi Abdullah semangat untuk jangan melepaskan jawatannya.

Utusan Online melaporkan kira-kira 20 orang Ketua Bahagian berkumpul di kediaman rasmi Perdana Menteri hingga lewat malam. Beberapa orang penasihat Abdullah juga difahamkan berada dalam perjumpaan tertutup itu.

Abdullah akan mempengerusikan mesyuarat Jemaah Menteri pagi Rabu dan seterusnya mempengerusikan Majlis Tertinggi Barisan Nasional di sebelah petang. Abdullah dijangka memaklumkan keputusan samada mempertahankan jawatannya atau tidak.

Pertemuan ini dilihat sebagai tindak tanduk penyokong Abdullah untuk cuba memujuknya supaya jangan mengaku kalah sebelum bertarong dalam pemilihan parti Mac depan. Mereka mahu Abdullah membuat keputusan untuk menawarkan diri sebagai calon presiden. Seterusnya, mereka mahu Abdullah mengumumkan keputusan sebelum mesyuarat tahunan bahagian yang bermula Khamis ini.

Sebanyak 191 bahagian Umno diberi masa dari 9 Oktober hingga pertengahan November untuk mencalonkan sesiapa yang mereka fikir layak untuk memegang jawatan tertinggi dalam parti. Hanya calon yang dapat sekurang-kurangnya 58 pencalonan layak bertanding jawatan presiden dalam pemilihan Mac ini.

Setakat ini hanya Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, MP dan Ketua Bahagian Gua Musang, yang telah menawarkan dirinya untuk bertanding jawatan presiden. Abdullah dijangka tidak akan bertanding, dan sekaligus memberi laluan kepada timbalannya, Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak, untuk menawarkan diri sebagai calon.

Pemerhati politik menyifatkan pertemuan malam ini sebagai permainan politik yang mempunyai impak besar terhadap percaturan politik Umno. Jika mereka berjaya mempengaruhi Abdullah untuk bertanding, senario di mesyuarat tahunan peringkat bahagian akan menjadi panas dan rumit.

Abdullah berhadapan dengan beberapa situasi: mampukah beliau mendapat 30 peratus kuota untuk layak bertanding? Jika gagal mendapat cukup pencalonan, bukankah ini memalukan? Bagaimana pula kedudukan Najib. yang diura-urakan akan bertanding jawatan presiden?

Mungkinkah kita akan melihat pertandingan tiga penjuru - Abdullah, Najib dan Ku Li?

Najib telah beberapa kali menyatakan bahawa dia tidak akan melawan bossnya. Beliau hanya akan bertanding jika kerusi presiden kosong, iaitu jika Abdullah tidak bertanding.

Bagaimana pula dengan Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, MP Pagoh dan Menteri Perdagangan dan Industri Antarabangsa? Muhyiddin dijangka menawarkan diri untuk jawatan timbalkan president pagi Jumaat ini.

Dalam masa 24 jam akan datang, penasihat dan penyokong Abdullah akan bekerja keras untuk mendapatkan pencalonan. Abdullah akan membuat keputusan muktamad hanya selepas mendapat gambaran jelas berapa banyak bahagian akan mencalonkan beliau.

Oleh kerana hanya dua bahagian - Machang dan Kimanis - yang bermesyuarat Khamis ini, pemerhati politik tidak hairan jika Abdullah mengumumkan keputusan pada hari Khamis, dan bukan hari ini (Rabu).

Sama-sama kita tunggu dan lihat.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Najib queried Zahid Hamidi on top post?

CAN someone confirm this for me - I was made to understand that Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, an aspirant for the deputy president post in Umno, had a pow-wow with Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak earlier this evening (Monday).

Zahid, once Najib's political secretary and now a Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, had announced his interest to vie for the number two post. I'm not sure whether Zahid sought the meeting with Najib or he was summoned by the Deputy PM.

Zahid's declaration to make a bid for the top post was met with much talk on the ground. I'm also told that a few divisions had begun to give a second thought as to who they would nominate to contest the number two post, especially in Perak.

These divisions, who had earlier hinted strongly that they would back Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, a front runner in the race despite not officially announcing his interest, had begun to waver and may opt for Zahid instead.

Sources close to senior Umno leaders said it wasn't a happy meeting the two had. In Umno's tradition, the behind-the-scene deals are just as important, if not more, than the public announcements.

Zahid's announcement had caught many people by surprise, and Najib was believed to be one of them. In Umno politics, not telling your boss of your intentions can yield a somewhat awkward situation.

Questions: What transpired at the meeting between Najib and Zahid (if indeed it took place?). Would Najib discourage Zahid from proceeding to seek nominations? What reasons Zahid offered by way of justifying his intention?

At this point in time, Zahid, Malacca Chief Minister and Vice President Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam and Tan Sri Mohamad Rahmat's son, Datuk Nur Jazlan, are the only ones who had openly declared their interest to contest. The other vice president, International Trade and Industry Minister, Muhyiddin, has yet to publicly expressed his desire to contest.

Question: Must an aspirant explain to his boss his reasons to contest? Would Ali and Nur Jazlan be also hauled up like Zahid? Is this a form of an unofficial 'vetting' before a potential candidate can try to advance his political career?

This is the Umno way, the intrigue that's been practised over the years. Some commentators said Zahid is being planted to contest to put a check on Muhyiddin, seen to be a strong critic of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Muhyiddin has been speaking up and made strong statements that Umno must reform itself, starting from the top.

In the next few days, some of these questions will be answered. Just be patient.

Hurry up! Any more Nur Jazlans?

WITH all due respect, is Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamad really serious in offering himself as a candidate for the Deputy President's post in Umno? Is his political tutelage complete, or is he still on a learning curve?

Offering oneself as a candidate for such a top post is a serious matter. Jazlan has every right to make a bid for any posts in Umno, but has he got the credentials to go for the number two spot?

It's one thing to have balls, and he showed that in JB when Johor Umno met Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after the general election. That meeting set the discussion for the transition plan. And Jazlan was one of the few who spoke for change in Umno top leadership.

But offering himself to be a candidate for Deputy President takes more than balls. You know what I mean.

Or is Jazlan trying to capitalise on the issue and make himself seen and heard amidst all the political hoo-ha that's going on! In politics, it's very important that one is heard and seen, never mind if one makes sense or not.

Politicians need visibility. They need to be talked about. They need to position themselves. From time to time, they need to remind the electorate that they are still around, still making noises, still relevant.

I won't be surprised if Jazlan makes another announcement soon that he's dropping the idea, and that he'll be happy to be nominated to serve as Supreme Council member, and still able to contribute at the highest level.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Malays have too much guilt; morbid too

THIS is Hari Raya week - a happy week - but the TV stations made it to be a very morbid week indeed. Well, that's my conclusion after having had to endure several Malay dramas these past few days.

Since I was playing house nurse, I had to sit through several dramas shown on various channels. There were a few repeats as well.

Almost all the dramas had deaths in them. Either the parents die, or the children die. In one drama, father and son died. And all these deaths take place on the eve of Hari Raya or on Hari Raya day itself.

The central theme of these dramas is filial piety, and the balik kampong phenomenon. There was an episode where three sisters whose parents are blind returned to their kampong in Perlis only to be greeted by their father's death.

Yes, you guessed right - the siblings had not gone back to their kampong for several years, having left the blind parents to fend for themselves while they found fortune in the big towns.

The one shown earlier tonight showed the death of a daughter who was trying her best to get back her estranged parents together. She died on the eve of Hari Raya. When her mother came to visit on Raya morning, she came smack into her daughter's dead body in the hall of her father's big mansion.

I also concluded there's a lot of guilt in the Malay community. Almost every drama depicted guilt on the part of the lead and supporting roles - guilt for neglecting parents, for neglecting children, for living a life of sin.

And inevitably, on the eve of Hari Raya, they all came to realise they have erred and frantically made their way to the kampong to seek forgiveness from their loved ones. And very, very few succeeded.

However, one drama stood out. Produced by Sheila Rusly and her husband, Hanya Aku was shot in a drug shelter home managed by Pengasih. With well-known singer Hattan playing a lead role, the drama showed how several addicts tried to kick the habit, and how their efforts were made more difficult by uncaring family members such as parents and spouses.

I thought the dialogue was realistic too, and the acting better than most. I must admit that I'm not a drama critic, but Hanya Aku is worth seeing for those who missed it on Astro Ria.

Of course there were deaths - a girl addict on the road to recovery went back to her bad ways when her uncaring parents surprised her with their divorce plans; and Sheila's husband was found dead in an alley of Aids.

When will we see these dramas graduate to become outstanding good movies, such as HBOs 'Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee' shown earlier today? Never you say?